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Netherlands begins populating second F-35 squadron

The last of 24 F-35As arriving at Leeuwarden Air Base on 12 January. At the same time, the first aircraft began arriving at Volkel Air Base as the Royal Netherlands Air Force began the process of populating its second F-35 location and unit. (Royal Netherlands Air Force)

The Netherlands has begun populating its second unit for operating the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), with the news that the first aircraft had arrived at Volkel Air Base.

The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) announced on 12 January that, with the last of 24 F-35As now delivered to 322 Squadron at Leeuwarden Air Base, the first aircraft for 313 Squadron have now begun arriving at Volkel Air Base also.

The RNLAF is to procure at least 46 F-35As (of which 37 are on order) to replace its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcons. In October 2019 the Dutch Ministry of Defence announced it would stand up a third operating squadron for the F-35A, although it did not give its planned location.

News of populating the RNLAF's second operating unit came days after the service declared initial operating capability (IOC) for the F-35A in late December 2021. For the RNLAF, IOC means four aircraft are available for expeditionary taskings for a period of three to four months. The service is expected to declare full operating capability for the type in 2024.

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